Corporations are changing all around us — it's just that we don't see it happening. Not until it happens to you. There is a 'perfect storm' of many major influencers affecting the typical corporation of today. Let me go back a little in history . . .
- The first corporation came into existence in 1347 (Stora Kopparberg).
- The first modern corporations started in the early to mid 19th century.
- Corporations as we now know them (glass office buildings, desks, water coolers, etc.) thrived right after WWII and into the 50's/60's.
The majority of boomers and millennials were brought up with the idea to do well in school, go to college, graduate and get a good job in a corporation. Then very quickly afterward comes marriage, kids, grandkids and social security (hopefully!). The corporation would look after you if you kept your head down, worked hard, stayed late, and never caused trouble (see Linchpin).
In the 1990's something arrived called reengineering. This upended the typical unspoken agreement you had with the corporation. All bets were off. Corporations began review efficiencies EVERYWHERE. And if they found them, the answer was to remove the chaff and redistribute responsibilities to the remaining staff.
Unfortunately, reengineering went away as a process and was wholly subsumed into the functioning practice of the corporation. No longer was there a single great 'vetting' of the chaff, it happened EVERY YEAR. Odds are, every able corporate type has been laid off based on one stupid corporate reason or another. Before this happened, getting fired had an enormous stigma. No longer — everyone has that 'A' on their soul.
Now fasten your seatbelts — here is when it gets fun. Present day . . . seven disparate areas are merging together:
- Corporations still practicing slash and burn with employees on a regular basis (CFOs have the ear of the CEO and board).
- Worst recession hits since the great depression (mass firings, low personnel in-house, anemic hiring).
- Technology accelerates to allow virtual workers (laptops, wi-fi, iphones, ipads)
- Boomers are retiring - Millennials are taking the stage (more focus on work/life balance, less hours/smarter work).
- Benefit outlays are rising exponentially (there is a breaking point - workers want them/companies can't afford them).
- Facilities are really getting expensive (Rent, HVAC, Security, Ergonomics, Networking, Phones, Cafeteria, Gym, Parking, Grounds, etc.).
- Unintentional entrepreneurs (those fired in the last two years) are becoming consultants, looking for work ANYWHERE.
This begs the question: Why employ permanent workers at all?
Think of it — why not bring together required workers when needed for projects and initiatives and let them go when it is done?
Many departments can be easily outsourced or eliminated - Finance, IT, HR, Marketing, Sales, Events, Customer Service, etc. What does that leave? Management, Operations, Production? And those groups could be culled down significantly to a point where a small group of key executives rally the vision and leverage temporary teams to execute that vision.
It's already being done - think of how a movie is shot. A studio/director has a vision on filming a movie. Over the next 6-12 months, an incredible amount of highly skilled professionals are brought together (from many different areas) to build this film. The production hits an apex and then this huge group is then slowly whittled down to nothing when production is complete. Why can't this model be applied to business?
It's the perfect virtual company. Help is brought on based on experience, knowledge, and aptitude. Not seniority. You might say, "Where's the dedication? Where's the loyalty? Well . . . you're kidding yourself if you think that your company is loyal. And day by day, year by year, employees are becoming more disaffected and disloyal as corporations treat them like chattel. They hate you as much as you cheapen them.
Now you might think this is a bad thing. A negative thing to happen. I disagree - in fact, I think the exact opposite.
In my next blog post, I will present why it should happen and what are the real hidden benefits to all parties.